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Friday, August 3, 2007

Jane Friedman's Brand of Optimism

In a Forbes Magazine interview piece entitled "A New Leaf for Publishing," the CEO of HarperCollins, Jane Friedman, claims that publishing is healthy and strong. Come again, fancy lady?

She says: "I think the book business is the healthiest I have seen it in a very long time. We are seeing a breadth of titles selling in many different channels of distribution. We are no longer publishing for the independents only, the chains only, the big box merchandisers only, the online sellers only. We are selling across the board. The health is the breadth, diversity and range. That's good for business, and more importantly, it's good for society. "

She says: "...I try to recognize the importance of every single book. The author is most important; and before the author comes the editor. So we do everything we can on the editorial side and that brings us the right authors. "

Then she clarifies: "For example, we printed 400,000 copies of The Making of the Titanic. The movie was coming out at that time. HarperCollins was very busy supply chaining everything--strangling everything--because it had been bleeding money. There was a highly committed woman in charge of supply chain. She came to me and said "we have some very good vibes about the movie" and added, "We are going to print 40,000 copies." And I said, "No, we are going to print 400,000," and she turned absolutely pale, did not know where to run and report on me. And we subsequently sold a million copies of a $20 book."

(Oh. The Making of the Titanic is what she means by books. That is very important for society.)

Sadly, Jane Friedman has never rejected me.


Anonymous said...

"The author is most important; and before the author comes the editor."

PRICELESS! Most important is the author, but not before the editor!

x said...

And an excellent example of editor doublespeak contained in certain rejection letters.

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of a conversation with a record producer. When he spoke of "the talent", it sounded like the cheapest commodity on the market...and the most expendable.

Yeah: The Making of the Titanic. Must remember that the next time I see my handwriting on a SASE.